If you have ever traveled with me you know that I am not a light packer. I like to be prepared for every possible occasion, so this might mean five pairs of shoes, multiple outfits per day and lots of makeup and hair products. Making decisions about what to pack overwhelms me, so I end up packing way more than I need. Or use. I have just never mastered the travel system of three black pieces and a few accessories. One time I got to Rome and discovered that my luggage was lost. No change of clothes for three days! I’m not going to let that happen again, so I bought a new carry-on that can hold enough for a couple of days.
I’ve always called myself a “more is more” kind of girl. I like stuff and I have a lot of it. Now I am trying to let go of some of my things and it’s a struggle. A few years ago, when I was enthralled with Downton Abbey, I began collecting china teacups. I was excited to find some of the patterns that I saw on the show, but now I wish I never started. Those pretty teacups are taking up valuable real estate in my china cabinet. And I never use them.
By now you may be wondering where I am going with all of this. I don’t know about you, but I have found it hard to tear myself away from the drama in Ukraine that is playing out before our eyes. I almost feel guilty for going about my daily routine when there is so much suffering on the other side of the world. I watch the people, cold and hungry, sometimes walking for miles, while carrying babies and dragging a suitcase. One suitcase! What do they put in that one single suitcase?
I ask myself what I would pack in that situation. What things would be the most essential? I would probably pack a change of clothes, something sensible and warm. I would not be concerned about having just the right outfit; warm and dry would do. What else? I would probably include essential paperwork and documentation and cash, if I had any. Medications would be more important than mascara. Since my electronic gadgets have become so important to me I would pack a cell phone charger and pray for cell service and Internet. I would really like to take my laptop, but that might need to be left behind. And a Bible. I saw one man on television whose home was destroyed and he was crying over his lost Bible. I get it. I would hate to go through a war without a Bible.
A war (even watching one from afar) causes one to re-examine one’s priorities. What are the things that matter? These people in Ukraine are going to lose every earthly possession. It looks like there will be nothing left even if they are able to return. They will lose their houses and all the contents, things they may have spent a lifetime acquiring. Their cars have been blown up as well a their businesses and schools. And those things are not trivial. I think about family photos and mementos and little trinkets that children have made. Some people must leave their pets. And many are leaving behind precious loved ones, men of fighting age and those who are too old or ill to make the treacherous journey.
So what are my essential things? My family and friends, my two dogs, and some form of Bible. My thing that is most precious to me is the one thing that can never be taken away, even if I lose my life: my relationship with Jesus. That is the most practical thing I can ever pack. It never gets old, worn out, or depleted. It doesn’t take up any space, it is suitable for every eventuality, and it can never be lost or stolen. And if I don’t have a Bible? I would hate that, but I have spent years hiding God’s word in my heart. As I watched that man who was grieving over his lost Bible, my thought was, “Now it is your turn to be a living Bible to those around you.”
May America never experience what we are watching on television. And may God bless all those impacted by this terrible war.
“ For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39.